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Should Credit Checks Be Banned in Pre-Employment Screening

The tough economy over the last three years has given a rise to the number of people filing for bankruptcy. High credit card balances, lower levels of employment or unemployment are a common situation for people all across Ohio. Ohio bankruptcy attorneys know that getting into financial trouble can sometimes be a Catch-22 for people.

Financial trouble can lower a person's credit score. For the unemployed, a low credit score can impair the ability to pass a background check run by a prospective employer. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is looking into the issue. The issue arises in the wake of a recession that has left many unemployed workers with bad credit.

Four states in the country have passed laws against use of credit information in pre-employment screening. Congress and 20 states, including Ohio, have had bills introduced related to the issue. Now the EEOC is interested in the issue.

Opponents of the practice believe a credit report is not relevant to job performance. Jerry Palmer, a psychology professor at Eastern Kentucky University conducted a study in the early 2000s indicating that bad credit is a poor indicator of how an employee will perform on the job.

Proponents of performing credit checks say the practice is used sparingly. The Society for Human Resource Management says 60 percent of employers conduct pre-employment credit checks. Of those that do credit checks, 13 percent of the companies use them for all job applicants.

The EEOC is interested in the matter because the practice potentially carries a discriminatory impact on hiring.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Employer Credit Checks on Job Seekers Draw Scrutiny," Sara Murray 20 Oct 2010

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